Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our Value as Humans

Beliefs and values matter. They have far-reaching implications. For example, some increasingly vocal voices are claiming that all life has equal value. British rock star Morrissey recently stated:

  • I see no difference between eating animals and pedophilia…They are both rape and murder. If I am introduced to anyone who eats beings, I walk away.

I wonder whether he’d walk away from someone who just exterminated termites or disease carrying rats living in his house. Where would Morrissey draw the line? Would he swat a malarial mosquito? Would he eat yogurt – and this contains bacteria – or would he take an anti-biotic? Would he refuse an anti-biotic to a dying child?

Such obvious absurdities lead many animal rights activists to restrict their activism to the more intelligent animals, like chimps. However, if we try to establish the value of living things according to their intelligence, this will lead to other irresolvable problems. Here are a few that come to mind:

1.     Animals are not particular amenable to intelligence tests, least of all those anthropocentric measures that we would devise.

2.     If intelligence is to be the determination of value, then we also have to apply this criterion to humans. However, this will lead us to some very undemocratic conclusions. Consequently, some of us would be designated as more valuable and privileged than others. This criterion would also argue in favor of class. Our Bill of Rights would collapse in the face of this onslaught. Our laws would have to reflect a differential protection relative to intelligence. Therefore, killing one deemed intelligent would carry a greater penalty than killing one not so deemed.

3.     We would have to administer a continuous flow of such tests to determine whether intelligence is slipping and, consequently, one’s value as a person.

4.     If value is determined by intelligence, the door is swung wide open to euthanasia, eugenics, and the idea of the master-race.

What set of values could then protect society against this insipient materialism. I know of only one – the fact that all we humans are created in the image of God and therefore carry inestimable value, a value that God requires us to respect! This is the only rational basis for equality.

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